Farm Workers Lose Civil Rights Claim Over Virus Testing
A federal judge is ruling against Michigan farm workers and two West Michigan farms who asked for a temporary restraining order against the state. They claimed an order from the Michigan Health and Human Services Department specifically requiring them to submit to COVID-19virus testing amounted to a violation of their civil rights. But U.S. District Judge Paul Maloney is denying their motion for a preliminary injunction on an emergency order that required the COVID-19 testing of seasonal migrant workers residing on Michigan farms. Judge Maloney is the same federal judge who has had a hand in several decisions regarding the state’s handling of the COVID-19 virus outbreak. Some have gone against the state, others like this one did not.
It is not clear whether the farmworkers will continue their efforts to prevent the testing which they believe singles them out as an ethnic group.
The state Health and Human Services Department is releasing a statement in response to the ruling. The department is appreciative of the court’s ruling. It’s reminding agricultural operations and food processors that the related order of the state from August 3rd remains in effect. Farms and processors have until this coming Monday to comply. The order requires migrant housing camps to initiate a one-time test of all workers over the age of 18. Several other related requirements are also imposed on the farms and meat, egg, and poultry processors with 20 or more employees. The state is warning farm operators they face civil penalties and fines if they don’t verify their compliance.